Pain during sex can be a concern for a lot of people, and many tend to believe that the underlying cause can be one to worry about. Often though, it isn’t so.

Painful intercourse is referred to as dyspareunia. It’s more common than you would think. As long as it’s just occasional, it can be caused by simple things like deep penetration or too vigorous sex. However, if the pain persists and occurs often, it can be very detrimental to your sex life.

Up to 22% of women go to the gynecologist for this issue, making it an issue many women face. 

Why can sex hurt?

There are many possible reasons for dyspareunia, including illnesses and psychological issues, as well as common things like infections or even getting “carried away” during intercourse.

Generally, pain is the way for your body to tell you that something is wrong, so you should never ignore it. That’s not to say that you want to go to the doctor as soon as you feel a cramp or strain, but you should definitely pause and assess what could be going on.

If the pain is too much, or it’s prolonged, then you might require treatment or antibiotics for certain infections.

• Women

pain during sex
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Painful sex tends to present itself on the woman’s side, and it could show up on the vulva or deeper inside the pelvis.

If the pain comes from the vulva, it could be an infection like thrush or even an STI, so you should get screened if it’s the first time you feel it. Vaginismus can also be the reason: tightening of the muscles of your vagina, which shuts it. Luckily, the most common causes are harmless, like irritation and allergy from latex or other products and not enough lubrication, mostly from a lack of arousal, menopause, or breastfeeding.

If the pain is deeper inside the pelvis, then it might be stronger, but it’s less likely to be of concern. It’s mostly because of either endometriosis (overgrowth of uterus tissue outside the uterus) or fibroids (cyst-like growths in your vaginal area). These usually require surgery, but they are benign and not life-threatening.

Pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation can also be the reason behind your pain.

• Men

pain during sex
Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Men can also suffer from infections as much as women. Thrust can make their penis sore and itchy, and STI’s like herpes can also cause pain during intercourse.

Men can also have an over-tight foreskin, which can be deeply uncomfortable and painful during sex, or any time the foreskin pushes back. Small tears on this foreskin can also cause sharp pain even though they’re often microscopical.

Inflammation of your prostate (prostatitis) or swelling on your testicles can also cause discomfort during sex. Testicle pain can be caused by infections like chlamydia, but it can also occur if men become sexually aroused but never ejaculate.

Emotional causes behind painful intercourse

Pain during and after sex can also be brought by different emotional disturbances, and psychology is a significant factor determining the quality of sexual experiences at all times.

pain
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Psychological issues like depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, or commitment problems can make you feel less aroused. In women, this results in the vagina not producing enough lubrication, and that makes friction a lot more noticeable and, therefore, sex painful.

Even if there aren’t any psychological issues on the individual, stress can also cause pelvic muscles to tighten during sex, and this makes penetration more difficult and painful.

Finally, sexual abuse in the past can also play a significant role in dyspareunia.

Diagnosing dyspareunia

Dyspareunia is a general condition with non-specific symptoms. In other words, many possible causes don’t necessarily relate to each other. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor if you experience any physical discomfort for the first time.

Once you’re in the doctor’s office, the primary questions are about your pain and how it feels, your lifestyle (particularly your sex life), and your medical history (any past or current physical and psychological issues).

Chances are your doctor will also have to examine you to look for physical causes like tearing and inflammation. Most of the tests will take place around your vulva or penis, and your doctor may have to apply pressure to determine where the pain is coming from.

Women may also require internal examination, which can be done with gloves or an instrument called a speculum.

pain during sex
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

if you are looking to rule out STI’s and regular infections, take urine and swab tests. “Swabbing” refers to using a stick with a cotton tip to collect fluids and discharge for examination, and it’s mostly used in female patients.

Finally, it might be necessary to run blood tests to check your health and hormone levels.

If the results aren’t sufficient, your doctor might refer you to a specialist.

Treating and preventing the reasons you feel pain during and after sex

The best way to prevent pain during sex is to ensure proper lubrication and not get too carried away. Complex positions can also result in awkward angles resulting in cramps. As for thrush, the best way to keep it at bay is to be strict with your hygiene.

Treatment will depend on the cause:

• Infections like thrush require antibiotics.

• Vaginal dryness is easily solved with additional, water-based lubricants. Hormone treatment can also provide a long-term solution.

• Allergies and irritation require you to stop using the products, causing it.

• Psychological reasons require therapy, and if it’s regular stress, then you want to ensure you’re relaxed before having sex.

How Can You Make Sex More Pleasant?

What you need is proper vaginal lubrication to help you while having sex. Natural aphrodisiacs like Spanish Fly Pro helps do exactly that – with no side effects. It increases your libido levels and helps you in arousal – ensuring you enjoy sex the way you want to. 

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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